How These 2 Companies Support Team Members Who Are Giving Back to Women in Tech

These New York City leaders are harnessing their companies’ support to enrich others.

Published on Jun. 13, 2023
How These 2 Companies Support Team Members Who Are Giving Back to Women in Tech
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Uplifting underrepresented groups may start within an organization through hiring and promoting talent. But when businesses empower their employees to give back, they not only win — their employees and the larger tech community do, too. 

By funding employee resource groups, sponsoring industry-focused nonprofits and supporting broader mentorship initiatives, companies can multiply their impact.

Rose Songer, associate director of IT and compliance at Spring Health, has seen this play out in her journey as a leader and role model to other women in technology. While she didn’t initially set out to be involved in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, she’s now deeply involved in several resource groups.

“I hope that by my paving the way, other women won’t have to work long hours, over-achieve or do ten times more to be recognized,” she told Built In New York.

These endeavors may be even more essential in the wake of the pandemic and the rise of remote work. Elly Reed, a VP and product lead at Caesars Sportsbook, said that offering support now has to be more intentional than it may have been in an office setting, but it’s no less valuable. 

“It takes a lot of work to form the same kind of connection you would if you were sitting across the table from someone,” she said. “Recently, I was reminded why I take the time to make these connections when a colleague thanked me for just listening.”

Community engagement and mentorship create a ripple effect of benefits for employees, the wider tech community and an organization’s reputation and growth. By investing in these programs, companies can not only support women in tech and other underrepresented groups but also benefit from a more diverse, inclusive and dynamic workforce.

Read on to find out how Reed and Songer advocate for their communities at work and beyond — and how their companies help make this possible. 

 

Rose Songer
Associate Director, IT and Compliance • Spring Health

Spring Health is a comprehensive mental health solution for employers that aims to improve employee mental well-being.

 

What opportunities does your company provide you to mentor, coach and give back to fellow women in tech within your field?

At Spring Health, I’ve been able to create and lead our Diversity in Research and Development group. This group looks at challenges typically faced by those underrepresented in technology. Additionally, I was elected to be an executive junior sponsor for Outspring, our employee resource group for LGTBQIA+ staff. I also mentor through our mentorship program, Sprout with Spring. Lastly, my leadership has supported my development by sending me to various leadership programs such as Women Rising.

 

Tell us about an instance of giving back to fellow women in tech that was particularly fulfilling. Why did it resonate with you?

A few years ago, I decided to focus on honing my presentation skills in the cybersecurity field, which often led me to male-dominated conferences. During one such event, where I was the only woman presenter, a young woman approached me afterward. She told me how inspiring it was to see a woman presenting at BSides. She expressed her desire to present herself but was held back by fear — of not knowing enough or not proposing a compelling topic. I had not been actively involved in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at that time, assuming I couldn't make a meaningful impact, but this encounter shook me. It became a turning point in my career, driving me to invest in giving back and paving the way for other women.

Now, I am proud to mentor with Women in Cybersecurity, serve on the Board of Directors for the Diana Initiative, lead Spring Health’s internal Diversity in Research and Development initiative and continue speaking at cybersecurity conferences, among other endeavors. Each of these commitments brings me fulfillment in unique ways, but most importantly, allows me to uplift others and serve as a role model for women facing challenges in their careers.

 

I’ve recognized I need to lead by example and show other women that they can advocate for themselves and others.” 

 

How does giving back to fellow women in tech benefit you professionally?

Giving back to women truly fills me with joy. It's something I enjoy doing because of the lack of opportunities I had as a young woman in technology and in the Navy. Giving back and volunteering your time also has benefits professionally, such as: 

  1. Executive presence. I’ve been able to refine my presence and leading skills, which has helped me move up the career ladder.
  2. Mentoring. While I mentor through official programs, I often mentor women outside these initiatives as well.  
  3. Trust. Team members trust me. Everything I do as part of mentoring is with strict confidence, which allows them to feel lifted up and have a safe space to feel heard. 
  4. Advocacy. I’ve recognized I need to lead by example and show other women that they can advocate for themselves and others. 

Most importantly, I've created a seat at the table for myself. I didn't wait for an invitation. Through grit and determination, I've shown that women can be equal to men in technology and shown other women that they can do the same.

 

 

Elly Reed
VP | Product Lead • Caesars Sportsbook & Casino

Caesars Sportsbook is a betting and gaming platform that serves more than 20 million users daily online and in-person.

 

What opportunities does your company provide you to mentor, coach and give back to fellow women in tech within your field?

Caesars Entertainment offers numerous opportunities for women to connect and collaborate across domains. Our Savvy group, a key employee resource group, organizes special programming for women both on-property and virtually. Additionally, last year the Caesars Foundation donated more than $221,000 to women-focused organizations across the United States. We also partner and promote events with industry groups like Global Gaming Women to help our team members network and advance their careers in gaming and sports leadership.

Lastly, Caesars Entertainment, especially Caesars Digital, allows me to support incredible women on our teams daily through informal mentoring sessions and Slack channels.

 

I push myself to connect with other women in product locally to keep my networking and mentoring skills sharp for both virtual and in-person conversations.”

 

Tell us about an instance of giving back to fellow women in tech that was particularly fulfilling. Why did it resonate with you?

I've recently taken on the role of co-chapter lead for the Austin chapter of Women in Product. While we are still working to get this off the ground in the post-COVID era, a number of our virtual events have already had a huge impact on me. 

Working remotely is an amazing benefit that I'm fortunate enough to have at Caesars. I can connect seamlessly across time zones with my team, but it does make it difficult to build meaningful, vulnerable, one-on-one relationships. To address this, I dedicate time each week to connect with other women in the organization one-on-one for brainstorming, networking, mentoring and support. 

It's easy to get caught up bopping from virtual meeting to virtual meeting, but taking time to slow down and be present is crucial and can have a big impact. Because of this, I push myself to connect with other women in product locally to keep my networking and mentoring skills sharp for both virtual and in-person conversations.

 

How does giving back to fellow women in tech benefit you professionally? 

Giving back to fellow women benefits me because I learn and grow from our shared experiences. For example, I may be in a role that another woman wants to grow into. From her, I can learn how to be the leader now that she wants to be in the future. Alternatively, I may be networking with a woman with far more experience than me, and from her, I can learn how to navigate potential pitfalls and hurdles. There's always something to learn, and I find that engaging with other women allows me to form incredibly meaningful connections where vulnerability and authenticity are not seen as impediments to leadership potential or growth but are instead valued.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images by Shutterstock

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